He says some law enforcement officers could quit, or retire early.
Frederick, Md (KM) Even though the 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly has adjourned sine die, discussion continues on some of the bills lawmakers passed, especially the police reform measures. They include doing away with the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, setting up new procedures use of force and establishing police accountability boards in each county.
The legislation was developed following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police, which led to unrest in cities, and began conversations about law enforcement and race in America.
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, appearing recently on WFMD’s “Mid-Maryland Live,” said these changes could encourage a lot of police to leave or put in for early retirement; or discourage young people interested in careers in law enforcement from applying.. “Not only are people not applying for the jobs, young men and women who are on the job now are questioning that decision,” he said. “People who have reached their retirement time–20 to 25-years –are walking out the door because why risk everything you’ve earned in life. I can’t blame ’em.”
The package of bills was passed by the Maryland General Assembly days before it was adjourn sine die. They were vetoed by the Governor, and that veto was overridden.
The use of force provision requires police officers to be proportional if they have to revert to using force against a defendant. Jenkins says police departments rely on rulings from the US Supreme Court which say “objective reasonableness’ should be practiced if force must be used. “You hesitate and you have that let person act before you react,” he says. “That’ gets people killed. That gets officers killed; that gets people killed.”
Since he’s been Sheriff, Jenkins says there have been few complaints about deputies’ using “excessive force” against defendants. “In these years, we had one complaint of excessive force,” he says. “No brutality complaints. One complaint of excessive force was thrown out in court at the motion’s hearing. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had a discourtesy complaint against a deputy.”
He also says each use of force by deputies is thoroughly reviewed. “Every use of force is tracked, it’s reviewed, up the entire chain of command. It’s sent back to our training folks. They take a look at it to make sure everything we did is legal, lawful, within our policy and our policy is based on case law,” says Sheriff Jenkins. “Every single use of force is reviewed up to and including across my desk.”
Regrading the establishment of accountability boards, Jenkins says they could be biased against law enforcement. “I think it’s dangerous because typically, the people that will probably express interest and be on these committees will have a type of agenda, either personal or political. Not everybody, but I’m probably guessing a few will, many will,” he said.
This new package of legislation is scheduled to take affect in 2022.
By Kevin McManus